THE history of the world shows us that as far back as it is
possible to trace, there has always been shipping in some
shape or form, and whilst many of these old records may be
of little value, there is no doubt whatever that merchants
owned ships and traded in regular routes some thousands
of years ago.
Reference is made in Chapter 27 of the Acts of the
Apostles to the vessel upon which Paul made his journey to
Rome, and it states there were two hundred and seventy-six
persons on board the vessel, including crew and passengers.
From this reference it will be easy to obtain some idea of the
size of the vessels which as long ago as that were carrying
out a passenger trade in the Eastern Mediterranean.
For an earlier reference to the beginning of this vast
mercantile marine, we have, of course, the savage who was
reputed to have noticed skins of dead animals and logs
floating down the river, and to have discovered the value of
transport by sitting upon these moving objects, then when
standing he found that the pressure of the wind increased
his speed, which produced the origination of the sail. This
all, however, is a matter of great supposition.
We find, however, records of early ships, and these may
be divided into sections, as Egyptian ships, which were
propelled by a large paddle at the rear of the vessel;
Phoenician ships, which were equipped with both oars and
rudder; and the Greek and Roman fleets with their war-
like vessels equipped with fighting gear and built-in rams.
When these early vessels were engaged in warfare which
meant hand to hand fighting, it was discovered that by
raising the ends of the ship, platforms could be built and
used as castles or towers, from which vantage points large
portions of rock could be hurled with ease into the enemy
vessel This gave the early start of the castle type steamers.